NBA great and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley once famously said, “I am not a role model”. I like Sir Charles and even can understand his point to a certain extent – I think he was trying to let parents and teachers know that they have daily interactions with children and should be their role models.
Unfortunately, Charles was wrong and so are many leaders.
You see, whether he liked it or not, Charles was in a leadership position. He was and is a leader of his family, he was a leader on his team, and as a high profile professional athlete, he was a leader of young athletes everywhere. As such, it was and is his responsibility to set a good example – to be a role model.
I read a great blog posting on the topic of leaders as role models recently. Click here to read it.
The posting points out that no one is perfect and even the best leaders occasionally aren’t the best role models. Nonetheless, when in a leadership position, every action you take (or don’t take) and everything you say (or don’t say) is seen and heard by your team – by those you lead – they deserve your very best.
So this blogger had a list of the six “saboteurs” of being a positive role model:
- It’s what you were taught
- Just this one time
- It’s easier
- It’s faster
- You’re frustrated
- It feels good to let off a bit of steam
I know I’m not always a great role model – and therefore probably not always a great leader. However, understanding that as a leader I am a role model is vital. What great leaders do is find ways to make being a positive role model a habit. And habits are hard to break.